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C Spire offers consumers and businesses important reminders and tips on how to use their mobile phones for emergency communications during 2014 hurricane season

With the 2014 hurricane season about to get underway, C Spire is offering consumers and businesses in storm-prone areas some important emergency communications reminders and tips on using their mobile phones before, during and after any storm or natural disaster.

The latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast calls for as many as eight to 13 named tropical storms to form in the Atlantic Ocean during the six-month period that officially begins on June 1. Three to six of those storms could strengthen into hurricanes with top winds of at least 74 mph and one to two could become major hurricanes with maximum winds of 111 mph or more.

Last year was only the third below-normal season in the last 19 years since 1995 when the current high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes began. Fourteen tropical and subtropical storms formed in the Atlantic basin in 2013, but only two became hurricanes and only one, Tropical storm Andrea, made U.S. landfall. Andrea spawned tornadoes, heavy rain and flash flooding in portions of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, resulting in one death.

“2013 was pretty quiet in terms of major hurricanes threatening the U.S. mainland,” said Eric Hollingsworth, vice president of Network Operations for C Spire. “But with nearly 37 million people living in hurricane-prone coastal areas, we can’t afford to let our guard down. Now is the time for individuals, families and businesses to prepare emergency plans, create emergency supply kits and learn evacuation routes.”

In conjunction with National Hurricane Preparedness Week, C Spire is offering consumers and businesses the following tips and advice on using their mobile phone during this storm season:

Consumer Tips - Before the Storm

  • Charge your primary wireless phone battery and secure back-up batteries and a vehicle charger in a dry, accessible location. Use waterproof accessories or simple zip-lock storage bags to protect devices.
  • Take photographs and videos of all your important possessions with the camera and video recorder on your wireless device and send them to your email address. If a hurricane damages your home or property, these items will help you file your wind insurance claim.
  • Consider storing important documents and personal items in a storage facility away from the threat of any major storm, wind or water damage. Take photographs for your records and store on your wireless phone.
  • Plan and practice a hurricane evacuation route with your family and leave immediately when directed by local authorities.
  • Designate an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as your family contact person and make sure everyone in your family knows the contact person’s name, address and phone number. Text or e-mail the contact information with your mobile phone.
  • Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers for police, fire, rescue agencies, power companies, insurance providers and family, friends and co-workers and program them into your mobile phone address book.
  • Give your emergency contact information to those who may need it, including neighbors, family and friends.
  • Track wind and storm surge information through the mobile web on your wireless phone.
  • Prepare an emergency supply kit with items, including a flashlight and battery-powered radio with extra batteries, canned and non-perishable food, bottled water, toiletry items, pet food and supplies, medicine and prescription medication and copies of important family papers and documents.
  • Download free weather and safety-related applications like The Weather Channel, FEMA and the National Weather Service for smartphones, tablets and other devices.

Consumer Tips - During and After the Storm

  • Tune a battery-operated weather radio to the latest storm information.
  • Limit travel in hurricane-prone areas, which should be closed, and use extreme caution. Do not drive through flooded roadways or attempt to cross flowing streams.
  • Place voice calls only when necessary. Limit your personal calls so that capacity is available for 9-1-1 calls and other emergency responders. When possible, send text messages instead of placing voice calls. Text messages require less network capacity and are more likely than voice calls to reach their destination during periods of network congestion.
  • If you’re a C Spire customer, use Text CS from your mobile phone for any customer support issues. This helps reduce potential wireless network congestion and ensures that you get prompt assistance.
  • Charge your mobile phone in your car during commercial power outages. If a car charger is unavailable, buy an AC adapter for your vehicle so you can use your wall charger.
  • Turn backlight down on your mobile phone to the minimum levels to conserve battery life. When the battery is extremely low, turn phone off unless in use.
  • Use the camera on your wireless device to document damage to your personal property, home or business and use picture and video messaging to send them to insurance agents or other contacts.

Small Business Tips – Before, During and After the Storm

  • Set up call forwarding to an alternate location as a hotline for employees, their families, customers, vendors and suppliers to call for updates on your business status and emergency planning.
  • Maintain an updated employee contact list, including home and cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
  • Protect mission-critical data, hardware and records by periodically backing up files to an off-site location. Use a generator as backup power for computer hardware and other essential equipment. To aid a prompt business recovery, have a plan ready to implement for replacement of damaged hardware.
  • Train employees on evacuation and shelter plans. Establish a backup location for your business and an employee assembly point.
  • Use a crisis-management team to coordinate efforts with nearby businesses and building management. Develop and implement a plan for supply chain continuity for essential elements of your business.

“The bottom line is preparation,” Hollingsworth added. “While weather forecasters continue to improve the accuracy of their hurricane forecasts, individuals, businesses and communities need to work together to develop and implement comprehensive plans to effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from severe weather events like hurricanes.”

For more information about emergency planning and communication tips, visit the National Hurricane Center (NHC) or Ready.gov. For a free hurricane preparedness guide, visit the NHC or the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

About C Spire

C Spire is a diversified telecommunications and technology services company that provides world-class, customer-inspired wireless communications, 1 Gigabit consumer Internet access as well as a full suite of dedicated Internet, wireless, IP Voice, data and cloud services for businesses. This news release and other announcements are available at www.cspire.com/news. For more information about C Spire, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire.

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